Obama names Indian American Kundra as infotech czar

By Arun Kumar,

Washington, March 5 (IANS) US President Barack Obama Thursday named Vivek Kundra, a 34-year-old Indian American, as the federal chief information officer (CIO) at the White House to advance the administration’s technology agenda.

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“Vivek Kundra will bring a depth of experience in the technology arena and a commitment to lowering the cost of government operations to this position,” Obama said.

“I have directed him to work to ensure that we are using the spirit of American innovation and the power of technology to improve performance and lower the cost of government operations,” he said.

“As Chief Information Officer, he will play a key role in making sure our government is running in the most secure, open, and efficient way possible.”

A White House announcement noted the CIO directs the policy and strategic planning of federal information technology investments and is responsible for oversight of federal technology spending.

The Federal CIO establishes and oversees enterprise architecture to ensure system interoperability and information sharing and ensure information security and privacy across the federal government.

The CIO will also work closely with the chief technology officer to advance the president’s technology agenda, it said.

New Delhi-born Kundra formerly served in Washington DC Mayor Adrian Fenty’s cabinet as the chief technology officer (CTO) for the capital city, responsible for technology operations and strategy for 86 agencies.

He has been recognised among the top 25 CTOs in the US and as the 2008 IT Executive of the Year for his pioneering work to drive transparency, engage citizens and lower the cost of government operations.

Kundra is also recognised for his leadership in public safety communications, cyber security and IT portfolio management.

Before Kundra came to the capital, Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine appointed him assistant secretary of commerce and technology, the first dual cabinet role in the state’s history.

Kundra’s diverse record also includes technology and public policy experience in private industry and academia. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership and holds an MS in information technology from the University of Maryland.